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Sunday, 5 August 2007

Living with a bad neighbour...

Zimbabwe's neighbours are coming under increasing strain as they try and cope with what is now becoming a rapid exodus from Zimbabwe. Zambia is the latest victim. Read more here.

Its quite clear now that Zimbabwe has become a regional problem. I have previously questioned the incentives for regional leaders to act and resolve the situation in Zimbabwe given the benefits some countries have derived at Zimbabwe's expense (e.g. tourism and agriculture for Zambia). But it becoming clear that the costs of inaction may now be outweighing the benefits. The rapid flow of immigrants in both South Africa and Zambia is becoming serious.

For both nations closing the border is not an option. What we need is a creative way of dealing with the influx of Zimbabweans. In the short term temporary migrants are beneficial to business since there are just crossing the border to buy food and going back home. As the Zimbabwean woman says "Zambians should not be annoyed with us. We are only coming here to buy goods which are not available in our country in order to survive". Of course in the long term that might change as this quote from the Immigration Official indicates : "We foresee a situation where there will be a lot of people on the streets such that we may face problems if people continue coming in such large numbers".

Perhaps its about time Zimbabwe's neighbours considered setting up special border towns where Zimbabweans would be free to enter and leave and buy food? It would need careful handling and tight security controls, but its something that should be considered. Zimbabwe is not at war, so we have no refugees as such, just people wanting to purchase food and go back. Admittedly, South Africa faces a deeper problem given the more attractive prospects it offers. But with careful implementation, mini border trade towns could be the way forward of containing the Zimbabwean problem until the political and economic situation changes.


  1. when you wonder whether we use our knowledge for good or not here is the answer.

    the problem in zimbabwe is not just across the zambezi but in our 'middlest'.

    this is like continue keeping a relative that is not productive or chase them out to see reality.

    zimbabwes neighbours have let it down by standing idle, but the good news is the effects of this inaction has now come to our door steps.

    our leaders have this thing of fighting the ghosts of the past, i feel no matter what we do we will never win any battle with these ghosts,they will let go of one thing and have another card up their sleeve.

    how much has seating idle cost to neighbours of zim.? some look at the economic benefits of the displaced crossing the river but what will happen when a leader emerges from zim. who is going to recognise the impact of losing these fellow countrymen. i look at it like a pendullum enjoy while you can and brace youreslves when tables turn.

  2. "zimbabwes neighbours have let it down by standing idle, but the good news is the effects of this inaction has now come to our door steps"

    It does appear that the terrors of the night have come calling...

  3. I've added a few comments on the example of Zambia with respect to it's experienced with the IMF/World Bank, and how this cannot be seen as a positive example for Zimbabwe to follow.

    See my contribution here.

    The key discovery is the term Price Participation. Apparently, there IS an agreement within the Development Agreements that the Zambian government would receive a percentage of sales if copper went over $2700 per tonne!!

    Well obviously it has, so all that stands in the way of collecting, is the true listing of these companies' profits.

    This is big. Price Participation.


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